OUTA is pleased with the victory of the City of Cape Town in the Western Cape High Court, which opposed SANRAL’s application to keep documents pertaining to plans for tolling in the Western Cape secret.
SANRAL’s attempt to prevent the City of Cape Town from filing papers in an open court is just another one of many examples of how this state owned entity displays a disregard for citizen’s rights of an open and transparent approach to matters that impact the public. Over the past few years, SANRAL has demanded confidentiality of its contracts in the court papers in OUTA’s e-toll case, and has blacked out pages of the e-toll contract agreement supplied to COSATU and the DA in 2011, and refused to share its tolling model when requested to do so by the media in 2011.
“We believe it is extremely important that the detailed costs of proposed tolling projects, along with the planned tolling tariffs, expected revenues and the costs due to the tolling operators are open for scrutiny by the very people who are expected to pay for these services, before the toll declarations and plans are approved by the authorities”, says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairperson of OUTA. “The fact that SANRAL feels otherwise is a display of disrespect to the people of South Africa and an attitude of gross arrogance”.
OUTA strongly opposes the tolling of highways in urban areas and believes that commuter routes fall into the category of social infrastructure and should be funded using general taxation and the fuel levy. SANRAL’s choice of forcing the e-toll system into Gauteng has been a waste of tax payer’s money and this kind of behavior begins to undermine the legitimacy of the state. It appears the City of Cape Town may be able to avert the same fate that was destined for its roads, had SANRAL had its way.
John Clarke, joint spokesperson for OUTA “feels the two victories by the City of Cape Town against SANRAL, has dealt a massive blow against the once respected state owned entity’s plans to toll in that region”. This victory will now enable the public, economists and infrastructure funding experts to scrutinize SANRAL’s tolling model and expose the problems and rationality of their plans.